Sunday, October 11, 2009
As sandy stones beneath his feet
Grow hot, cold,
Hard, soft; sinking toes.
In creeps texture;
Fingertips tingle with incipient awareness
Of misty skies
Yellow streaks transient.
Like life that passes
Like the sun that rises and eventually sets.
The tears that rim
Snake slowly down
Each drop in slow-motion fall.
Sand turns blurry grey.
But no frenzied horror writhes in him
No wind-tossed emotions
Only loneliness stilled like surface seas.
He knew too well she’s gone.
His pain a dissipated pink
That spread across the clouds.
Rich colour reflected on
of sadness that rising, roaring crash
Down upon his soul
As swallows of sorrow soar.
But look up,
There is still some magnificence
Some glory in that glow
In every stroke His hand is seen
His hand that painted beauty.
have far more songs to sing
has yet to be washed
tinged with reddish glow,
By tides of His love and blood.
She’s gone, but not to someplace sad
She’s gone to a place where the sun would shine
More beautiful than now.
Where voices sweeter than swallows sing
Where greater power than the seas
Of roaring waves and ebbing flow
Will be exalted high.
So wipe the flowing tears away
And whisper a little prayer.
For He could hold the ocean in His hand,
But He’d choose to hold your tears instead.
Joanna Lee, the writer of this poem is one of the youths of Powerhouse+
Monday, October 5, 2009
The H1N1 pandemic, like SARS a few years earlier, is a reminder to us of our own mortality. That day the Lord calls us before him is a day we all anticipate, although we also know it comes on us stealthily and suddenly. Nevertheless, it is a day we can prepare for. In reading 1 Thess 4:1-18, we are reminded that as we live on earth, there are dangers to avoid and duties to take on. If we follow faithfully our Lord’s guidance, we can be sure that we will not be caught ashamed when the Day of the Lord is upon us.
Live a Balanced Life (vv3-8) – Avoid spending inordinate time and effort on things we do for pleasure. How much time do we spend on our hobbies or on eating even? Measure that against time we spend on reading God’s Word. That should give us some idea of how important our spiritual life is to us. We should also avoid being obsessed by our work life. God has given each of us creativity. Unfortunately, when it is tarred by sin, we tend towards workaholism. This subjects us to burnout and neurological disorders leading to a barren life, despite our material abundance.
Be involved in things that matter (vv9-12) – While we are to avoid the excess of working for our keep until we burnout, it does not mean we avoid ministering in God’s name. I believe God expects us to be involved and has called us to be his partners in making him known through ministry and mission. How involved are we? Are we using our gift(s) to his glory in ministry?
This life is not the only one we have (vv13-18) – We should live keeping our eyes on eternity. Many people, Christians included, live as though only the earthly life matters. Our journey through this life should be lived in the light of the Gospel. Each day is a day that God calls us to the obedient life that reflects his glory and truth. Sometimes, this obedient life will cause the world to think disparagingly of us and even ridicule us. This is something Jesus received and told us that we will too. But he also reminded us that God’s favour is on us when we live our lives to please God, regardless of the world’s attitude towards us.
So as we ponder about balancing the work life and recreational life with the spiritual life, or even our temporal work life against our ministry life, we can see that we need wisdom, above all, to bring things into balance. We all need this wisdom, even pastors, and it can only come from above. To attain this, we need an uncompromising attitude of prayerfulness. This consists of continuous and continual prayer. How much time and how many times do we spend on daily prayer? Excluding our prayer before meals, our prayer in church and with our CG friends, how much time do we devote to prayer daily and weekly?
Regular prayer is victorious prayer. I read this somewhere “unless we know how to bend our knees before God, we will never stand upright before Him on the Coming Day.” Seeking to live a God-pleasing life without seeking God’s will can be futile and fruitless. The only way to overcome the flesh, the world and the Devil is by drawing on heavenly resources. These heavenly resources are ours through reading and reflecting on God’s Word and through prayer.
May the Lord’s praise be with us when he comes to take us home!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The recent Typhoon Ketsana that devastated the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam turned many lives upside-down. Within a few hours, their cities were flooded chest high. People saw their children drown and loved ones swept away. People ran out of food and electrical power. Life looked out of control for them.
The Jews that Jeremiah wrote to in Jeremiah 29 also faced a similar challenge – their lives were out of control. Conquered by the Babylonians, thousands, including their king, were deported to Babylon. Will they ever see and worship in Jerusalem again? They had not expected everything to be turned upside-down like this! Undoubtedly, many of these Jewish exiles had faithfully followed God. Yet they too suffered devastation. Likewise, we Christians are not exempt from the tribulations of life, even when we have done nothing wrong.
I had a friend whose life once was turned upside down. He was an executive in a Christian ministry and was happy serving there. But a time came when his boss was upset with him and started treating him like a leper. My friend’s duties were taken away from him and it seemed like he was being forced to resign. It was so bad that he would wait till his wife was asleep so that she would not see him cry as he prayed to God.
How did he cope? He told me, “Every morning I woke up and asked God to give me a day not worse than yesterday. If someone needed help, I would do whatever I could. If there was any paperwork, I would finish it.” In short, one day at a time, he would just plod on and do a God-pleasing day of labour. Then he went home and thanked God for the grace to have lasted the day.
In looking at Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles, we see the same idea in his advice. The Jews were to do their best for God even in captivity. They were to settle down, grow crops, build houses and have children (Jer 29:5-7). In other words, they were to carry on with all the normal, mundane tasks of life, wherever they were. There was no talk of a miraculous deliverance from Heaven. Instead, they were to live one day at a time for seventy long years before they would be restored.
How did they endure it? By trusting in the One who made the promise, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11). The One who made that promise knows everything, sees everything and has power over everything. Although the waiting was difficult, the end-result was assured by God. The lesson for all of us is just to persevere, not in moaning and groaning, but in the tasks that God has entrusted to us.
It ended well for the Jews. Seventy years later, a remnant of them returned them back to their land. For some of us, though, our trials may not end soon enough. However, we can persevere because of our hope that the Kingdom of God revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be fulfilled. Many times, our victory lies not in the hope of a miraculous deliverance but in the hope of having the grace to live one day at a time.